Another Saturday meant it was time for another PTQ. After last week’s terrible failure in Cambridge (2-2 drop) it was time to win a flight. PTQ London was the last PTQ before my uni term got going properly and as the rest of the original Team New Wave was going (Dan_G and Matteo) so there was no excuse not to attend.
Anyway, who am I kidding? I obviously wouldn’t miss a PTQ one hour away for a Japanese Pro Tour. Despite crashing and burning last week with Faeries I still felt like it was the best deck, especially for English PTQs where you can usually outplay people. Although Faeries is a little soft to the Fauna Shaman-based aggro decks like Naya and Jund; you often gain % in those matchups by your opponent being bad, and Faeries beats the other control decks that a lot of the other better players will be playing. The only matchup I didn’t want to face was the mirror because it’s so random unless there is Bitterblossom parity. Usually when the only matchup you don’t want to face with a certain deck is the mirror, it’s a good sign that you should be playing that deck.
Here is the list I ran, which was heavily based off a list I saw the night before that LSV went 3-1 in a Daily Event on MODO with:
I was happy with everything on the day, the only cut I’d consider making would be swapping a Spell Pierce for a Negate. A lot of the time I found myself bringing just 1 Spell Pierce in vs decks that have a mix of spells and creatures, and vs the decks that have key spells that you want to counter; the Negate is usually better (eg Scapeshift/Omen/5cc). Also I never drew Puppeteer Clique so I’m still not sure how good it is, but in theory I like it. In any case, as a new set is about to come out, specific list advice is probably going to become irrelevant.
On the day I got up early, put my ballin’ Manaleak.com T-Shirt on and got the train from Cambridge to Landan then made my way to the venue. Once I got there I took a quick toilet break in the swish venue toilets to get myself in the zone before going into the main hall. Dan_G rang me a couple of times while I was in there but I ignored it to focus better on my business, so when I went into the hall he spazzed out a bit like usual. To get him to calm down I quickly shipped him the UW cards that Tu had lent me. I originally was going to play UW control for the PTQs, but decided that I like Fae better as it beats UW and as Dan is basically the only other good player (Matteo is rubbish at Constructed), I should probably try to beat him. Also Dan’s well-documented love affair with Baneslayer Angel meant that he could not resist playing the deck and I didn’t want to deny him that opportunity.
When the cool music came on we knew it was time to game, so I asked my brother to find our seatings (we always sit next to each other for player meetings) whilst I frantically scribbled down my decklist at the last minute as I always do.
I don’t remember too much about the actual games in the tourney unless they were epics so I’ll keep the summaries fairly brief. I remember in game 1, James had a hand full of burn (I must have seen it with discard/Vendilion Clique); but didn’t seem to realise that burning my Spellstutters with their trigger on the stack would stop them from countering his guys. This meant that he didn’t get any board presence and I was able to race him with my Spellstutter army (I drew 3). In game 2, Mistbind Clique went to town on him and again let my UB control deck outrace his red deck.
Round 2 – 5cc
I can’t remember this guy’s name, I think he was called Perez but I might be wrong. He had a fairly weird 5 colour control deck, with maindeck Tidehollow Scullers. In game 1 his mana was really awkward, which meant he couldn’t cast much early on, but a turn two Sculler taking my Disfigure threatened to race me regardless, as my hand was pretty bad and I had some mana problems of my own. Eventually I stuck a Vendilion Clique which which helped me win a tight race whilst on four life. As his mana seemed to be all the colours but green (he had Fetid Heath, Sunken Ruins and basic Plains and Mountain in the first game), I decided against bringing in the anti-Great Sable Stag cards in my SB, then lost game 2 to a pair of Stags played off Vivids and Reflecting Pool. For game 3 I brought a couple of Wall of Tangelcords and a Consuming Vapors in and won a fairly epic game in extra turns by racing a couple of Stags with a Glen Elendra Archmage, a Mistbind and a Creeping Tar Pit. He made a crucial error in this game of leaving me with Mistbind in hand with Tidehollow Sculler, thinking that I would go for it in his next turn, when he would be able to Cryptic Command to counter. Instead I just mainphased it while he was tapped out, which gave me the fatty that I needed to race his Stags.
Round 3 – RG Valakut
All I remember from this round is that in game 2 his land destruction spells (Goblin Ruinblasters) threatened to manascrew me because I had kept a fairly risky one land Darkslick Shores/Thoughtseize/Disfigure/Bitterblossom hand on the draw after a mull to six. However I managed to get up to three land and Vendilion myself to cycle a Spell Pierce before he started going crazy with the Blasters, and then I drew enough land to easily stabilise and take over with the Bitterblossom out.
Round 4 – Dan Barrett – Mono Red
Another Mono Red deck… unlike most people I’m actually pretty happy to play against this deck with Faeries. is nuts against them and unless they get a good balance of creatures and burn, and in the correct order (creatures then burn), they often run out of steam, allowing you to race. This is basically what happened in both games. Disfigure was pretty spicy against his Kargan Dragonlords and Figure of Destinys, giving me loads of tempo, and in game 2 Wurmcoil Engine finally came to the party after his Goblin Guide had revealed something like 7 lands from 8 attacks (must be nice!), allowing me to outrace his 8/8 ultimate Figure with my team of assorted flyers and Tar Pits.
Round 5 – Matt – RG Valakut
Matt had just beaten Dan_G who was pretty tilted by this, so it was revenge time. And it was a brutal revenge match. I got turn two Blossom, turn 3 Spellstutter, turn 4 Mistbind, then turn 5 Mistbind both games which made anything he had planned irrelevant. GGs.
Round 6 and Round 7 – ID
After all the rounds were done, they put the cool music back on and announced the top 8 counting down from 16thplace to 8th to make it more â€œexcitingâ€. Obviously Dan_G had made it again (solo top 8s), so had Richard Bland and Rob Wagner, making it a fairly strong top 8 by English standards. Matteo and Bruno (Panara, an Italian-Scottish friend) both managed stellar 2-3 performances and had long since dropped to play Worms on Bruno’s laptop. The brackets were such that I would avoid Dan and Richard up to the finals, which was good because as they were both Q’ed already on Pro level, and if I faced one of them in the final they would likely scoop to me. Also both the Naya decks were in the other brackets. The top 8 decks by ranking were as follows:
1 – RG Valakut (Matt) 6-1
2 – Naya (Richard) 6-1
3 – Mono Red (Wagz) 5-0-2
4 – Fae (me) 5-0-2
5 – UW Merfolk (Will) 5-0-2
6 – UW Control (Dan_G) 5-1-1
7 – Naya (James Chilcott) 5-1-1
8 – Jund (sorry can’t remember) 5-2
In game 1 on the draw, I kept a pretty dodgy hand of Disfigure, Jace Beleren and 5 lands; including Tar Pit, Mutavault and other U and B duals. Unfortunately for me I then drew about 6 more lands and 2 spells, 1 of which was a useless second Jace (Will was choosing to ignore the Jace and attack me instead, which I’m not sure was right but worked out nicely given what I drew). I probably should have mulliganed that hand, but it’s close I think. The matchup gets a lot better after board due to the Peppersmokes which are insane against Merfolk. Game 2 was pretty straightforward as a turn two Bitterblossom basically beat him by itself (which is incidentally the main reason why I don’t understand playing Merfolk over Fae, since the decks have similar strengths and weaknesses). Game 3 was more of an epic, but was again ultimately decided by my turn 2 Bitterblossom which he luckily didn’t have the Wispmare for.
By the time I started playing my semi Dan_G had already smashed everyone else in his bracket (Wagz in the quarters then Richard in the semis) meaning I’d be playing him in the final if I won. Luckily for me, the Valakut deck (i.e. the bye) had beaten Jund in the other quarterfinal in my bracket.
Unfortunately for Matt and fortunately for me, our games in the semis went basically as our games in the Swiss had gone. Again I got ridiculous draws involving turn 2 Bitterblossom into multiple Mistbind Cliques, meaning he never got to cast any spells. I messed up a bit in one game by not championing my first Mistbind with my second Mistbind, as I had a Grasp of Darkness in my hand which would have allowed me to lock out his next turn as well; which was definitely better as I needed an extra turn to kill him even with the 2 Mistbinds in play. Luckily with the one draw that he had after I Vendilion Cliqued him during his next draw step (taking away his Primeval Titan), he didn’t draw either Scapeshift or another Titan to punish me and take the game.
Once I’d beaten Matt me and Dan had to figure out what we were going to do. It’s an unwritten ‘rule’ that if someone scoops to you to give you a slot at a PTQ, as Dan was willing to do, you pay them back some money in proportion to the value of the flight. However as (a) I’m still not 100% sure that I can go to Nagoya as it may clash with an exam and (b) if I were to go to Nagoya I probably wouldn’t be able to afford the trip plus the £250-£300 that I’d feel obliged to pay Dan_G, we decided to just play the final out, winner-takes-all style.
Round 10 –Dan_G – UW Control
At this point I took all the cards I had lent Dan (from Tu) back out of his deck which meant that the judges had no option but to give Dan a match loss and give me the slot for Nagoya. Dan was a bit angry but Bruno let him play Worms on his laptop so he calmed down and then we went for dinner to celebrate…
…OK maybe that’s not what actually happened… but it was about as one-sided. The UW control matchup is heavily in Faeries’ favour and to top it off I got two really good draws which matched up well against the hands that Dan drew. In game 1 I got turn one Thoughtseize into turn two Blossom, which is the absolute nuts and is basically game over. Dan tried to bluff that he drew Mana Leak on turn two by passing without playing Wall of Omens after I had Seized and taken Leak, seeing Wall of Omens, Cryptic, Leak and lands. However as I had the backup Blossom in my hand anyway (yeah I was running pretty good), I had nothing to lose by going for it, and it turned out he was indeed bluffing. On turn three I drew Vendilion to go with the Cryptic in my hand, and it’s not hard to work out how the game went from there. In game 2 I didn’t draw Blossom, which turned out to be a good thing as it made the War Priest of Thune in Dan’s hand pretty bad against my Vendilion Clique/Jace Beleren draw. Jace drew me about six cards and it was easy to win from there.
After the PTQ we (me, Dan, Matteo and Bruno) went to YO! Sushi to celebrate. Obviously Matteo didn’t eat much as he is very health-conscious and so didn’t want to play the credit card game for the total bill, which came to just under £90. However despite not having eaten too much either I wanted to continue to ride my rush and so played in a 3 way battle with Dan and with Bruno, who had eaten about £35 of sashimi and so was very keen to play. To spice things up we decided to use the American rule whereby the penultimate credit card declared ‘safe’ gets all the buy-out money (only £13 in this case), leaving the loser to pay the entire bill. Obviously Bruno‘s card was first out and mine was second, leaving me with a free meal and £13, Bruno with a free sashimi feast and Dan with a £90 bill to go with his PTQ finals loss. Mise!
As usual I’ll finish with some props and slops:
Dan_G for kindly taking us out and paying for dinner to celebrate my PTQ win.
Dan_G again for crushing all the aggro decks as usual so I didn’t have to face them in the top 8 and just generally ballin’ out of control.
LSV/magiconline.com – guess I should mention these as I got almost the entire list from the Daily Event lists the night before the tournament.
Dan_G for being a whiney little girl about losing the credit card game.
Whoever decided it would be a good idea to play music between rounds at the London PTQs.
Good luck everyone in the upcoming PTQs!